The Terra Nova Expedition, officially the British Antarctic Expedition, was led by Robert Falcon Scott with the objectives of scientific research and also of being the first to reach the South Pole. Scott and his four companions reached the pole on 17 Januay 1912, where they found that a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had beaten them by 34 days. Scott’s entire party died on the return journey from the pole. Some of their bodies, journals and photographs were discovered by a search party eight months later.
During the winter of 1911, 25 men of the Terra Nova shore party lived in the hut pictured above. It was from here that Scott and his men set out on their ultimately fatal trek to the South Pole.
The hut was prefabricated in England and shipped south. 50 feet long and 25 feet wide, it was divided into separate areas for sleeping and working by a bulkhead made of boxes of stores. Lighting was provided by acetylene gas, and heating came from the kitchen and a supplementary stove using coal as fuel. Considerable effort was made to insulate the building and to extract the maximum amount of heat from the flues of the stove and heater. Members of the expedition described the hut as being warm to the point of being uncomfortable.
Scott and his party were beaten to the pole by Amundsen. The entry in his journal must have been heartbreaking to write …
The Pole. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected … Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority. Well, it is something to have got here.
They began their journey homewards. The weather became worse and worse. Temperatures plummeted as low as minus 30 degrees (minus 47 at night). Expedition members were stricken with exhaustion, injury, cold and frostbite. Their food rations were fast running out. Evans died first, collapsing in the snow, followed by Oates who, according to Sccott, died a gentleman’s death. Knowing that he was done for, and not wanting to encumbered his companions, he disappeared into immortality with the words … ” I am just going outside and may be some time.” Finally in a dreadful blizzard Scott, Wilson and Bowers took to their tent and they too succumbed to the elements. The final entry, written by Scott on 29 March 1912, reads …
Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now.We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more. R. Scott. Last entry. For God’s sake look after our people.
The search party located their bodies eight months later. They simply collapsed the tent over them and erected a cairn topped by a cross made from skis.